A Yorkshire landlord has been handed a 12 month prison sentence following a fire in which two people lost their lives. The two teenagers were trapped in a second floor flat by the fire which was started by a former caretaker who had been refused entry to another flat where a party was being held. He used rubbish that had accumulated under a stairwell, including furniture and paint tins to start the blaze. The person who stared the fire was convicted of the double manslaughter but the landlord was also found to be culpable. We often use these blogs to pass on news of landlords being prosecuted for safety offences but it is very unusual to see a case where the fire was started deliberately and the both the arsonist and the landlord end up in court. There is little our landlord insurance clients can do to prevent an arsonist from targeting a let property but there is a great deal a landlord must do to ensure that the property and its contents comply with safety laws.
The judge said that the landlord had a “complete disregard” for the safety of his tenants. There was a lack of fire safety equipment and signs. The landlord, who had been living in an adjacent property said that he had never wanted to become a landlord and had originally intended to sell the flats but his plans were thwarted by the property crash. The judge found that the safety issues were simple matters that should have been identified as part of a routine risk assessment and they could have been rectified without a good deal of expenditure.
The safety rules and procedures that apply to let properties are common sense precautions and it is essential that landlords are aware of them. They cover things like gas and electrical safety and the suitability of furniture and furnishings. More complex rules apply to houses in multiple occupation. There is plenty of information on the web as you will soon find if you do a search for terms like “landlord safety rules” or “houses in multiple occupation.”
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